Kenji Sugahara was granted a patent for remote ID systems: Member of the Drone Advisory Committee, CEO / President of the Drone Service Providers Alliance, and CEO of Oregon-based research and development company Ariascend for drones.
By DRONELIFE Staff Writer Jim Magill
With the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent release of the Final Rule for Remote Identification of Unmanned Aircraft, the race for the industry leader in remote identification technology (RID) development
One of the earliest players in the race is Ariascend, an Oregon-based drone research and development company, which announced this week that its CEO Kenji Sugahara recently received a patent for remote identification of drones.
US Patent 10,825,345, issued by the US Patent Office in November, requires drones to have a “digital license plate” that can be used to broadcast information about the drone to field observers, including law enforcement agencies and members of the general public.
In an interview, Sugahara said the patent emerged from a white paper he wrote in 2017 and submitted to the FAA’s Advisory and Regulatory Committee. Many of the ideas set out in the White Paper and the patent itself were incorporated into the final FAA rule. In fact, Sugahara said he was surprised at how exactly his patented idea, one of many remote ID patents that various companies have filed, holds the final rule.
When he first applied for a provisional patent based on the White Paper, “I had no idea what the remote ID would look like in the end,” he said. “When the rule came out, I thought, wait a second. It’s kind of crazy. “
Sugahara’s system includes “an electronic beacon system attached to an unmanned antenna system that broadcasts identification and sensor data including a UAS identification code, global positioning system data, and other telemetry data,” according to the patent.
“There are authorized and unauthorized handheld mobile devices,” he said. “The authorized persons (e.g. law enforcement agencies) could get the personally identifiable information through a database, while unauthorized persons like the general public could only get the location on the digital license plate of the drone. ”
As with Sugahara’s proposed RID system, the FAA’s final rule doesn’t require drone operators to send their identification information over a network connection. This provision was included in the initial announcement of the proposed rule creation but was later removed. Sugahara’s proposal is to use Bluetooth or WIFI signals to transmit the identification data.
“Bluetooth is an interesting approach because it’s short range and almost bespoke for remote ID,” he said. “It also helps maintain the pilot’s privacy as it is not like a network where it is constantly connected.”
In addition to being a patented inventor and CEO of Ariascend, Sugahara is also a renaissance man. “I’m a full-time drone pilot and run my own media company with two other people, A-Cam Aerials,” he said. He is also the director of the Drone Service Providers Alliance, a licensed attorney specializing in drone policy, and a board member of the Oregon Tourism Commission.
Sugahara said he has not yet decided what to do, whether to commercialize his patented idea by developing a commercial RID product. “I hadn’t thought about it much. “After I sent the press release, a few companies got in touch with licensing the patent,” he said.
As he ponders the various offerings, “the bottom line in my view is that whatever is done with the patent cannot be used to stifle competition,” he said. “The idea is that you want a robust industry that is based on remote ID and makes it cheap and accessible. The more operators out there and the more drones there are, the better for us all. “
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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